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N. Korea's Military Exercises Bring Tension to Northeast Asia

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Published on Mar 2, 2011

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S. Korea-US and Japan-US military recent exercises
are met with N. Korea's threat of a nuclear crisis.
Tension mounted again in Northeast Asia.
On the day after S. Korea-US military exercises,
S. Korean President Lee Myung-bak expressed
willingness to enter a dialog with North Korea.
China and Japan also resumed strategic dialogs.

S. Korea-US military exercise "Key Resolve" will
take place from Feb 28 and March 10.
Another simultaneous exercise "Foal Eagle"
will last until the end of April.
Around 200,000 S. Korean and 12,000 US troops
and a US aircraft carrier would take part.

The S. Korean-US Combined Forces Command said,
it is an annual routine exercise to address potential crises
and nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea is said to have 50kg plutonium
to make 10 pieces of nuclear weapons
and a substantial number of biological weapons.

North Korea reacted strongly to the exercises,
claiming them as serious military threats.
It threatens to bomb Seoul into a "sea of fire"
and talks about a nuclear war on Korean Peninsula.

S. Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin visited
the Korean troops stationed as the frontline,
instructing them to "report after taking actions first"
if faced with N. Korean provocations.

Some NGOs like Korean Federation of Trade Unions
issued statements, concerning about the potential
military conflicts due to the S. Korea-US exercises.
They urged both parties to solve issues via dialogs.

Mar. 1 is the 92nd anniversary of Korea's
independence movement against the Japanese rule.
President Lee said in a memorial that S. Korea
is willing to have an open dialog with N. Korea.
A summit could be held if necessary.

He said, if N. Korea quit its nuclear weapon programs,
S. Korea is willing to provide financial assistance.
He said now is the best time to plan for a new future.
For national independence and dignity,
N. and S. Korea need to promote peace and unity.

However, the N. and S. Korean military talks
on Feb. 9 at Panmunjom near their border was futile.
The U.S. hopes them to eliminate differences and
resume dialog to ease the tensions on the Peninsula.

S. Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported on Feb. 21,
N. Korea dug a new 800-meter deep nuclear tunnel
at the same location of the previous two nuclear tests.
S. Korean government believes that N. Korea is likely
to conduct the 3rd nuclear test and launch medium to
long range missiles to continue with its provocations.

On Feb. 23, UN Security Council N. Korea sanction
committee's report on its uranium enrichment program,
due to Chinese communist authorities strong opposition,
was not accepted by the security council.

Yu Yingshi, emeritus professor of Princeton University:
N. Korea is most important in China's international games.
I believe the N. Korean problem is not about N. Korea.
Unless U.S. and S. Korea can become determined enough
to have another war with N. Korea."

After N. Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island in Nov 2010,
Chinese President Hu Jintao told President Obama,
Korean Peninsula is a delicate region.
If improperly handled, the crisis on the peninsula
may escalate or go out of control.

Professor Cai Jian, Korean expert at Fudan University:
Although the U.S. and China each backs one Korea
I feel that they cannot fully manipulate
the specific foreign policies of either Korea.
The U.S. and China can only make general suggestions,
but will not be able to exert their control on every move.

Analysts point out that both Koreas have a strong
national pride and a will for unification.
The fundamental barrier for unification is the CCP.
Once the CCP regime is disintegrated,
the N. Korean regime will soon collapse.
Presently, military conflicts in the Northeast Asia
should be avoided.

Japan and the U.S. also held a joint military exercise
scheduled from Feb. 28 to Mar. 3.
The Aegis destroyers of both countries joined hands
in practicing missile intercepts.
N. Korean missile threat is a target of joint Japan-US
military exercises that also targeted China and Russia.

Recently, the sovereignty dispute regarding the
Northern islands between Japan and Russia intensified.
Russia has strengthened the military defense there.
Diaoyu Island dispute between Japan and China eased.

On Feb. 28, the 11th vice-minister level dialog
between Japan and China was held in Tokyo, preparing
for the Japan-China-S. Korean Summit in May.
The topics of discussion included avoidance of
ship collision incidents and policies on N. Korea.
Japan requested to re-open the negotiation regarding
the oil and gas fields in the East Sea.

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